Garrett Celek

49ers tight end Garrett Celek retires from NFL after eight seasons

49ers tight end Garrett Celek retires from NFL after eight seasons

Garrett Celek announced his retirement from the NFL on Friday after eight seasons with the 49ers. 

"I can’t thank the 49ers organization enough for giving me the opportunity to pursue my dreams and all of the countless relationships I’ve made along the way, especially my Tight Ends, thanks for supplying me with endless stories and memories. Niner Faithful, thank you for cheering me on these past 8 seasons, love y’all, Celektime is clockin out," Celek wrote on Instagram. 

Celek, 31, said before the 49ers' loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV that he was contemplating retirement. On Friday, a decision was announced. 

[RELATED: 49ers' Shanahan, Lynch start to shift focus to 2020 season]

Celek underwent surgery in June to repair a herniated disk at the L-4 and L-5 levels. He began the season on injured reserve and appeared in five games before his back flared up. The 49ers placed him on IR in mid-December. He said he will not require another surgical procedure on his back.

The veteran tight end did not catch any passes this season, and finishes his career with 82 receptions, 1,104 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in 91 games.

How George Kittle's mentality helps him play through serious pain

How George Kittle's mentality helps him play through serious pain

MIAMI, Fla. -- George Kittle’s bruising style of play can take a toll on his body, but since his rookie season, the 49ers tight end has been able to power through the injuries that would stop a normal person. 

Since being drafted in 2017, Kittle has developed into the top playmaker for the 49ers' offense. But not too long ago Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch did have some concerns about the tight end following his first season with the club.  

They were concerned about him staying healthy. 

“I mean, football, which as I’ve learned over the years is availability is your best ability,” Kittle said. “Just being on the field playing. There’s an extent, playing hurt versus playing injured, it’s different. But if you can play, you can play, and you just want to be out there.”  

Tight end coach Jon Embree believes there was a mental hurdle that Kittle needed to get over which is what happened during the offseason before his second season. 

“His first year, the things he couldn’t control like the high ankle sprain, no matter what you do, you don’t control that,” Embree said. “I told him, instead of focusing on that, just focus on the fact that you played a lot of games hurt with that ankle. That showed his toughness.

“I think that helped him understand that when he is nicked up, he still plays at a very high level. I think going through what he went through that rookie year gave him that basically ‘you have to kill me to stop me’ mentality.”  

That mentality is one part of Kittle’s makeup but there are several things that the tight end has learned through practicing yoga with his sister, Emma, to tips from veterans on the team. 

“You just have to figure out how to do it,” Kittle said.

"Luckily for me, I had Garrett Celek which was awesome. The things I learned from him I still do to this day. Having a veteran like that my rookie year too, that helped me because he played plenty of seasons injured. For me it was if he can do it, I can do it and that was just kind of my mentality.”  

[RELATED: Kittle vs. Kelce, too close to call before SB LIV]

Embree believes that what Kittle does physically and mentally is invaluable to the team. The drive and effort that he puts into the game is contagious and you can see it throughout the locker room. 

"He’s always going to, because of the way he plays, he’s always going to be someone who gets kind of nicked," Embree said. “He may miss a game here or there. But also I know he could be a great player and impact player for us at 70-percent, and that’s huge.” 

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (9:30 p.m. Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

49ers' Garrett Celek to contemplate future after finishing season on IR

49ers' Garrett Celek to contemplate future after finishing season on IR

MIAMI, Fla. -- Tight end Garrett Celek made it to the Super Bowl in his first NFL season.

Celek is sidelined with a back condition this time around. But the fact he is joining his 49ers teammates for Super Bowl LIV has helped him get through a season that has been challenging on a personal level.

“I’ve never looked at it in a bad way, at all, which has been great,” Celek said. "I just hate having to deal with an injury. That’s the biggest thing.

“It hasn’t been crushing me because we’re doing so well. I think if we weren’t doing well, it would hurt more because then I would’ve felt like I wasn’t contributing at all -- like I couldn’t help out the guys. But because we’re doing so well, it’s awesome.”

Celek, 31, faces a decision at the end of the season. Celek, the second-longest tenured 49ers player behind Joe Staley, is scheduled to be a free agent, and he said he has no time frame on determining his next move.

When asked if retirement is an option, Celek answered, “I don’t know, yet. That’s something I’ll have to face once the season is over. I’ll try to figure it out.”

Celek underwent surgery in June to repair a herniated disk at the L-4 and L-5 levels. He began the season on injured reserve and appeared in five games before his back flared up. The 49ers placed him on IR in mid-December. He said he will not require another surgical procedure on his back.

Celek said he probably came back too quickly after surgery, but he felt as if it was the righ thing to do at a time when tight ends George Kittle and Levine Toilolo were injured.

“I told the coaches that I was prepared and I could do it, and that might’ve been too early," Celek said. "But I wouldn’t take it back."

[RELATEDWhen 49ers tight ends coach Embree knew Kittle was special]

Celek, who entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted rookie from Michigan State, was a backup to Vernon Davis when the 49ers made it to the Super Bowl that year. He played three snaps of offense and 14 plays on special teams in the 49ers’ 34-31 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

“It’s not easy getting here,” Celek said. “I thought it was when I got here in my rookie year, but then I realized soon after that, it is not easy.”

Celek has appeared in 91 games with 31 starts in his eight NFL seasons. He has 82 career receptions for 1,104 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (9:30 p.m. Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.